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Kung Fu Panda 

Watching Kung Fu Panda on the same day as You Don't Mess with the Zohan and Son of Rambow, one suspects that Americans must be unfulfilled. All three movies are about people (or bears) who realize they're living the wrong life, and are misunderstood for pursuing their dreams. This makes the animated Kung Fu Panda's anti-status quo bent pure formula, but its familiarity is well constructed. The film's humour has appeal for kids and grown-ups (though it gets cutesy-clever more than once), it looks good and its underdog hero is sympathetic. He's Po (voice of Jack Black), a panda who stands to inherit his stork father's secret noodle recipe. Po doesn't see noodling in his future: His head is lost in the kung fu heroes who are competing to be the Dragon Warrior at the Jade Palace. A martial arts panda isn't inspired---one figures prominently in the Tekken video game series.

Kung Fu Panda resonates when contending with sons choosing not to honour their fathers' legacy. There's emotion when master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) looks into the eyes of arch villain Tai Lung (Ian McShane) and sees his once-playful son. In the movie's last third the energy behind the cliches wears out. The tone is lazier, with a more violent spirit. The climax could be the fist-fight at the end of Lethal Weapon, were it not animated animals. But Kung Fu Panda's mainstream success is that it's easy to accept: No surprises, but the formula is more enjoyable than usual.

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